Repositioning or differentiation marketing is the perceptual redefining of a competitors product.

In other words, creating the impression that your station is better than another, or inferior to yours.  It’s accomplished by pointing out a flaw(s) in a competitor’s product – usually one with a larger share of the market – and providing a solution.

While this technique can be exceptionally beneficial in taking market share from a competitor, some caution is warranted. While you want to comparably point out the superior benefits of your product, you don’t want to come off as mean-spirited (in most cases).

Although repositioning is commonly used by hundreds of companies in virtually every product category, political candidates are perhaps known best for using the tactic.

For example, Donald Trump’s constant labeling of Ted Cruise as ‘Lying Ted’ is an attempt to reposition Cruise as untrustworthy. However, the use of repositioning need not be perceived as negative.  In fact, many consumers find milder forms of repositioning as usefully comparative.

Repositioning is also preemptively used by companies on their own products. Why? To shore up weaknesses before competition attacks. This is also known as evolutionary marketing.

Below are examples of repositioning.  In situations in which I was involved, an explanation of market conditions is provided.


WNEW FM – New York

KYSR FM, Los Angeles

This “spot” was used by Viacom shortly after launching KYSR-FM (Star 98.7) in Los Angeles.

Research indicated that market leading stations KIIS-FM and KPWR-FM (Power 106) were perceived primarily for playing rap and top-40 music and for being repetitious.

KOST-FM (Coast) and KBIG-FM (K-Big) – also market leading stations – were known as being very similar. Both playing music that was slow and soft.

We took advantage of these perceptions and together with the creative team at MTV Networks created the campaign. Star was one of the most successfully launched stations L.A. had seen in years.

As effective as repositioning can be, many in our industry are reluctant to use it. In fact, it took many, many conversations to get execs from the two different companies to buy into using a repositioning message.  Difficult to understand when we never bat an eye when other product categories use the tactic.  For those who are hesitant in using repositioning, it’s useful to look at its application to products unrelated to broadcasting.


Verizon Wireless vs. AT&T



Mac vs. PC